Six biggest NBA draft busts of all-time

Hasheem Thabeet.
Few NBA draft busts are as well known as Hasheem Thabeet. Photo from Bleacher Report.

The NBA draft is where teams can get a generational talent using their draft picks. However, a lot of teams draft badly and doom their franchise for many years to come. Hindsight plays a big part here as no one could’ve thought that their pick will become one of the biggest NBA draft busts ever.

Worst NBA draft picks ever

It’s no secret that the biggest draft busts ever came from high draft picks. After all, there’s always a high expectation coming from a lottery pick. From injuries to just simply underperforming, it’s a team’s biggest nightmare to waste their precious pick.

Let’s take a look at the six biggest NBA draft busts of all time.

Adam Morrison (Third overall, 2006)

Adam Morrison is the perfect example of a player who peaked in college. He was a scoring machine in his junior season in Gonzaga—averaging 28 points per game in the NCAA. NBA scouts donned him as the next Larry Bird.

The Bobcats drafted Morrison third overall in 2006 hoping that he would continue his scorching hot campaign in college. However, Morrison never lived up to the hype and fell flat when he entered the league. He only averaged 7.5 points and 2.1 rebounds in his career. On a good note, he won two rings with the Lakers.

Hasheem Thabeet (Second overall, 2009)

Hasheem Thabeet was a freak athlete at 7’3 out of Tanzania. With the potential to become a franchise player, the Grizzlies selected him as the second overall pick. Memphis even passed on the likes of Stephen Curry, Ricky Rubio, and James Harden.

However, Thabeet never lived up to his Dikembe Mutombo comparison. He failed to crack the Memphis rotation as well due to Marc Gasol‘s emergence. He averaged 2.2 points and 2.7 rebounds in his entire career.


Kwame Brown (First overall, 2001)

Kwame Brown was selected first overall by the Wizards in 2001. It was Michael Jordan‘s first draft pick as a GM and it turned out one of the biggest busts in NBA history.

There are many factors that labeled Brown a bust such as lack of basketball fundamentals, immaturity, and injuries.

However, we can’t put all blame on Brown alone. He was a raw talent out of high school that needed proper guidance and skills training first. Still, he never figured it out and was underwhelming for the most part of his career. He averaged 6.6 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in the league.

Michael Olowokandi (First overall, 1998)

Michael Olowokandi was a raw talent out of college. It was reported that he didn’t pick up a basketball until the age of 17 and only started playing at the age of 18.

But even with those factors, he was selected first overall by the Clippers due to his freakish wingspan and upside. However, he never reached his potential and was underwhelming in his entire career. The Kandi Man averaged 8.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.

Anthony Bennett (First overall, 2013)

Anthony Bennett was the first Canadian to be drafted first overall. NBA scouts salivated over his tremendous frame and strength which resulted in the Cavaliers drafting him as first overall.

At 6’8, Bennett was undersized at the power forward and center position and struggled to defend at the small forward position. Add to that the fact that he shot an abysmal 39% his entire career as a forward. He only lasted four years in the NBA wherein he averaged 4.4 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.

Drafting Bennett first overall is one of the worst NBA draft picks ever.

Darko Milicic (Second overall, 2003)

The 2003 NBA draft was one of the best draft classes ever. Some of the notable names there were LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh—all inside the top five. But there was another prospect that is mostly forgotten.

Darko Milicic was a promising big man out of Serbia with a well-rounded game—typical for a European player. However, he never lived up to the hype and was underwhelming in his entire career. He averaged 6.0 points and 4.2 rebounds in the NBA. The Pistons may become one of the best dynasties in NBA history if they drafted Anthony, Wade, or Bosh.

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About Jeremy Mallari 71 Articles
Jeremy lives and breathes basketball. He's an avid NBA fan for almost a decade now.

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